Finnish forest owner: “The forest connects me to my heritage.”

Finns have a unique relationship with the forest. Forest owners see it as a valuable treasure that they want to look after and protect for future generations. Tom Nickull, VP for Sales Services at Metsä Fibre, tells about the forest he inherited.
  • Articles
  • |
  • |
  • 2023, Sustainability

We come from the municipality of Vöyri in Ostrobothnia, western Finland. It is where my brother and I jointly inherited a forest. My grandfather was a smallholder who did all his own field and forest work on the farm. I remember visiting the farm as a child during spring sowing and grain threshing. My brother and I imagined that we were a great help.

My father took over the farm from my grandfather, and then my brother and I took it over from him. That last handover was in 1997. I don’t remember ever really discussing it. It was just natural that the land was passed down from father to sons.

I guess my brother and I are pretty typical Finnish forest owners. We have inherited a farm but do not actually live there – we live in the city. I believe the size of our forest is also fairly common.

Forest management in professional hands

My home in Jyväskylä is more than three hours by car from Vöyri. Because of the distance, I rarely visit. My brother goes to Ostrobothnia regularly for work, so he spends more time in our forest.

Neither of us knows a lot about forest management, but we want to preserve the estate’s value for future generations. That is why we have outsourced forest management and felling to Metsä Group. We have a Forest Specialist who gets in touch with us regularly to talk about what needs doing at different times.

The latest felling was in 2020. It included thinning and regeneration felling. Our Forest Specialist supervised the sale of the wood from start to finish and made sure that new seedlings were planted immediately.

Owning the forest with my brother has worked well. We agree on things and trust what Metsä Group tells us.

Sustainable forestry protects our future

For me, forestry sustainability means continuity. It means that the trees grow so that my children and their children can continue to enjoy them. It also means taking natural values into account. For example, there is a swamp area on our estate that we do not use for forestry. Our forests are certified, too.

I work at Metsä Fibre as VP for Sales Services, and my team is responsible for planning and developing pulp and sawn timber sales, as well as technical customer service. In my daily work, I see how important it is for customers to know that their wood has been obtained legally and the forests are used sustainably.

Although there is money to be made in forest felling, the financial aspect is not so important to me. What I appreciate is that forest ownership makes me part of Finland’s traditions and our family history.

For the same reason, I do not think I will ever sell the estate. Smallholders worked long and hard days. If I sold the land to get more money, it would dishonour the work of my ancestors.


Tom Nickull
VP, Sales Services, Metsä Fibre

This article was originally published in Timber Magazine issue 2023.

In Finland there are more than 600,000 private forest owners

  • The average age of forest owners is 62 years.

  • 46 per cent of forest owners have inherited their forest estate.

  • Two-thirds of forest owners have multiple goals: in addition to wood production, they care about recreational values and natural values.

  • More than 90,000 of them belong to Metsäliitto Cooperative, which is Metsä Group’s parent company.

Forests cover more than 75 per cent of Finland’s land area

  • Private individuals own 60 per cent of the forest area, the state 26 per cent, and the forest industry 9 per cent.

  • The remaining 5 per cent is owned by munincipalities, congregations, joint forest partnerships, and other organisations.

  • Owners who do not live on their forest land, live an average of 205 kilometres away.

Sources: and the study ”Finnish Forest Owner 2020”.